As healthcare costs continue to rise, generic drugs have become increasingly popular among consumers. Their relatively low cost and FDA approval make them an economical and effective alternative to their brand name equivalents.
Much of these cost savings are the result of reduced study requirements for generic drugs.
“To get a brand new drug (to market), the research process takes multiple, multiple years, involving thousands of study patients throughout the world,” said Michael Reed, PharmD, director of clinical pharmacology and toxicology for Akron Children’s Hospital. “That costs a lot of money. The generic manufacturer simply needs to demonstrate in a very small study, usually just in human volunteers, that the medication in the form and in the dose like the brand name product, gets absorbed into the body at the same rate and to the same extent. It can be anywhere from 15 percent to 80 percent or 90 percent cheaper than the brand name drug.”
Dr. Reed was careful to note that there are several situations where consumers would be better off using the brand name drugs.
“There are a few select medications that I do not recommend switching back and forth from brand name to generic name,” he said. “One of those is Digoxin, a drug that’s used in patients with heart disease. Another drug is some of the thyroid replacement drugs. The same is true with the drug Phenytoin. Phenytoin is used as an anti-epileptic drug and there can be some issues with some of the other anti-seizure or anti-epileptic drugs.”
Dr. Reed discusses these and other pros and cons to generic drug use in the following video.